WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Old Man Quill #11 by Ethan Sacks, Robert Gill, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Joe Caramanga and John Tyler Christopher, now available.
It is fair to say Peter Quill has had a tough time dealing with a post-hero world in Old Man Quill. He’s seen the planet Spartax destroyed by Galactus and the Universal Church of Truth, watched his fellow Guardians perish at the hands of Gladiator, and his efforts to fix things via time travel plagued with numerous obstacles.
Traveling 55 years into the past, Quill aims to find what he’s looking for to potentially save the future — the Ultimate Nullifier — and try to take down one of his biggest adversaries in the process.
Quill aims to find what he’s looking for to potentially save the future – the Ultimate Nullifier
A hallucinating Peter eventually finds the remains of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, who left a video message activated by his voice. It reveals the couple left Quill the Ultimate Nullifier in hopes of fixing the future. When Peter returns to his present timeline, he immediately runs into Gladiator. The two spar, but eventually, Peter turns the Nullifier onto the Strontian powerhouse and completely vaporizes him.
Of course, Gladiator isn’t exactly an easy target, nor is he a pushover. His superhuman strength, super vision and other abilities have led many fans to refer to him as Marvel’s Space Superman. His defeat showcases the true power of the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon that is often considered one of the most powerful in the universe… and absolutely its most mysterious.
The ULTIMATE NULLIFIER: Origins, Powers And Cost
Originally debuting in Fantastic Four #50 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the device first appears when Johnny Storm is urged by Uatu The Watcher to take it from Galactus’ spaceship home, the Taa II. Galactus’ fear of the device is what prevents Earth from being devoured after Reed threatens to use it. But what does it actually do? Well, that’s largely open to interpretation (or who’s using it), but as the name subtly implies, it erases beings, places or even concepts from existence. In this case, Quill wanted Gladiator wiped from existence, and thus, he was. But Star-Lord’s imagination was limited, whereas a Reed Richards is much more dangerous with it, given his understanding of the universe and inventive imagination. However, even cosmic-level beings can be shaken by the Nullifier’s power.
In Infinity War #5 ,by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim and Al Milgrom, Thanos suggests Quasar use the Ultimate Nullifier to take down an Infinity Guantlet-wielding Magus. Unfortunately, Quasar hesitates and the newly-infinite Magus uses the Gauntlet to turn the weapon on Quasar, who ultimately nullifies himself. Of course, it hasn’t just plagued Marvel’s heroes and villains.
In a time when Marvel and DC were more open to cross-company crossovers, the Ultimate Nullifier made an appearance in George Perez and Kurt Busiek’s JLA/Avengers #1 storyline. In the book, members of the Justice League travel through the Marvel Universe to find artifacts to stop a multiverse-ending threat, as the Avengers do the same. Batman and the gang comes across the device on Monster Isle, where Martian Manhunter is nearly overcome by the device after probing it. Even the Infinity Gauntlet doesn’t have that kind of crossover cache.
The Ultimate Nullifier’s powers are grand in scale. Depending on who’s wielding the device, it can destroy a powerful being like Gladiator or nullify an entire reality. While Quill managed to take down Gladiator, The Great Emperor Doom made sure to throw a wrench in his plans, snatching the weapon out of his hands after it’s pointed at him. He seemingly destroys it as Galactus looms. Without the device, how can he take on one of the biggest threats in the universe?
We’ll find out in Old Man Quill #12, which hits comic shops on Dec. 4.